It’s not often that I’m startled at 7.30am by a stranger shouting at me. The piercing shrill is coming from a large lady on the footpath who doesn’t break stride as she follows up the “Are you stark raving mad”? with a loud laugh and exuberant wave.
I almost lose my footing and all I can manage is a rather lame “quite probably” in reply. Then her and her Labrador are gone and I’m still waist deep in the Monnow searching for grayling, perfectly convinced that my sanity is beyond question.
The day starts with me scratching a message on my partners car hoping our daughter might find it amusing. I’m going to defy the forecasters and their over excitement about the coming storm – it even has a name, the Beast from the East. Everyone is busy stocking up and preparing for the 4″ of snow that will paralyse the country for days. It will probably amount to nothing much. So 7am finds me tackled up and walking across the fields to the bottom of the beat. Although I’ve all the layers I need it’s one of my coldest starts to a fishing session at -4C on the gauge and as I continue my walk, ice is forming on my waders below the knees from crossing the river.
Today is also the first outing for my new Simms G3 boots, bought a while ago in a sale. So far so good, actually they feel fantastic and my confidence is up.
The river is clear and pushing through and I decide to try some Euro style nymphing so out comes the Hanak Superlight and my new Sunray line. I choose a shrimp for the point and a lighter PTN on the dropper and go hunting. Usually I don’t fish fast but today I’m not hanging around and I try to get a balance between getting a move on and keeping quiet. Although I’m searching every likely haunt I find nothing, but two little bumps (that I’m convinced are fish) keeps me optimistic. The first take comes at the end of a short drift just as I’m lifting and I unhook a small 8″ grayling with the fish still in the water. This is not a day for the net or pictures of my catch and it’s too cold to mess about. I take a few snaps of the river.
Two more similar fish follow but I’m not finding a shoal even in the deeper pools. Eventually the 4th grayling, a better fish of about 12″ takes the pink shrimp and shortly afterwards I’m in again to what I hope is a really good grayling but turns out to be a 14″ OOS brownie who is particularly feisty. It’s hard to beat the Monnow. After four hours on a cold late February morning I have chalked up five fish and I’m satisfied. If spending a morning here in Winter makes me ‘raving mad’ then so be it – I’m not alone. If you’ve found this post and read this far, you probably understand.
I warm up in the car with a sandwich and some chocolate – I’ll be home in half and hour. My partner phones and wonders if, with the storm coming, she should make an extra trip to the supermarket. No, let’s take a risk and live life on the edge I tell her…we’ll probably survive.